CARSON CITY, Nev. (April 23, 2020) ­– It took just one call from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services and Carson City Department of Health and Human Services to Tod Colegrove, PhD, MSLIS, director of the Carson City Library, and the wheels were set in motion. Four days later, thanks to the library’s 3D printers and a team that came together across the region, the printers were cranking out nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs to aid in the coronavirus (COVID-19) testing being conducted around the state. According to Colegrove, it was the right thing to do.

“Libraries aren’t just about books and magazines anymore,” said Colegrove. “Libraries are places that align with the needs of their communities, including the more urgent needs we’re seeing now. The Carson City Library is an innovation and knowledge center filled with all the comforts that we love, and continually works to equip its community with the resources and tools they need to succeed. From virtual reality to 3D printing and everything in between, we’re working to encourage involvement in STEM and to grow opportunities for our next generation. As a result, we were also in the perfect position to help the communities we serve when they needed it most.”

With the onset of COVID-19, businesses and organizations around the world had to change the way they operate overnight and the library was no exception. But just because the doors are closed, doesn’t mean that business didn’t carry on ­– after all, the community need is still there, it just looks different. The library shifted its focus to providing digital services and doing what it could to help support and defend its community from the onslaught of the virus.

With schools closed throughout the area, Library staff created nearly 3,000 new library cards for the now isolated students, enabling direct access to the extensive digital content. Storytime went online as e-books and audio book usage accelerated. Engagement from the community went from in-person to online virtually overnight. Ramping up the use of the library’s makerspace to produce personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face shields, and now nasal swabs is something that simply wasn’t on the library’s radar last month.

Just days earlier, those same library 3D printers had been enlisted to produce much needed PPE. Today, one printer is producing over 500 nasal swabs daily. Combined with the printers at the University of Nevada, Reno Innovation Center—Powered By Switch, the team is providing over 1,000 of the testing swabs every day.

“It may sound trite, but we’ve seen first-hand how libraries change lives. With the Library producing PPE and the nasal swabs, we’re stepping up to do what we can to make a difference and help save lives,” said Colegrove.

Technology equipment at the library supports training and education in engineering, electronics, robotics, 3D printing, multimedia and textile design and is funded by federal grants, state monies and from donations from the Friends of the Carson City Library, the capital city’s only true bookstore.

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